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Top young journalists honoured at awards

The best young journalists and photographers were awarded prizes last night at an annual awards ceremony.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists handed out its Awards for Excellence to trainee and student journalists at its Journalism Skills Conference in Bournemouth.

At the event, 11 awards were given out to winners of the news journalism, sports journalism, features, top scoop/exclusive, images and best student publication categories, while two performance awards were also presented for the best exam results.

In a separate presentation, the Chairman’s Award for outstanding contribution to journalism training was handed out to David Kett, who has taught public affairs on accredited courses for almost 40 years.

Lauren Potts of the Pontefract and Castleford Express, winner of the NCTJ's trainee Reporter of the Year award. Picture by Steve Phillips.

Announcing the award winners, NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher said: “Journalists have not had the greatest year, but the young people here to collect their awards tonight are proof that the hallmarks of great journalism endure: hard work, determination and quality stories.

“Each of them are thoroughly deserving of their awards and I have no doubt that the future of our industry will be safe in their hands.”

The prize of NCTJ reporter of the year went to Lauren Potts, from the Pontefract & Castleford Express, who passed the NQJ in November 2012 with the highest marks in the country during the year.

Lauren said: “It’s a privilege to be given such a prestigious award and it was the last thing I expected. It’s made all those nights sitting with McNae’s in the run-up to the exams worth it.”

The student journalist of the year award went to Alan Selby, who recently completed a part-time NCTJ-accredited MA at Brunel University.

He passed all his NCTJ exams in the first sitting with top grades, also achieving 120 wpm shorthand, and secured a place on Trinity Mirror’s training scheme.

The Chairman’s Award was presented to David Kett by Kim, who praised him for his “infectious enthusiasm” for his subject, estimating that he had taught at least two generations of journalists.

Kim said: “David Kett is the eminence grise of public affairs. He is highly respected by students and colleagues as a fantastic teacher and NCTJ examiner.

“David has been a delight to work with and has been unfailingly generous in his support to others. The NCTJ is fortunate to have such committed examiners supporting its work”

David, who is a senior examiner for the NCTJ and member of the public affairs board, has taught at Highbury College, the University of Bournemouth and the Southampton Institute, as well as tutoring at Up to Speed journalism training.

The other student and trainee award winners were:

News Journalist

Student – Eleanor Ross

Eleanor studied at News Associates in London and now works as a freelance reporter for The Sun online.

She was praised for her entries, including a report on the occupation of a Battersea Park playground by protesters, with the panel commenting she “clearly has an eye for a story”.

Trainee – James Coldwell

James, who is a reporter at the Hull Daily Mail, was praised by judges for “a superb range of hard-hitting human interest stories sharply told.”

Sports Journalism

Student – Thomas Mordey

Thomas recently completed the NCTJ-accredited MA at the University of Sheffield and is now a graduate trainee at Sky Sports News.

He impressed the judges with his features on the evolution of climbing and the impact of sponsorship on extreme sports.

Trainee – Thomas Allnutt

Thomas works at from Newsquest Herts, North and East London


Student – Rachel Gorman

Since completing her NCTJ course at Nottingham Trent University earlier this year, Rachel has started work as a freelance journalist for The Nottingham Post.

Judge Jayne Savva, features editor at Best Magazine, commended Rachel for her “easy, gently observant style” and “clever stylistic touches” in her real-life story of a paralysed musician.

Trainee – Joanna Morris

Joanna, who worked for The Northern Echo impressed judges with her “engaging writing style, colourful, evocative and revealing first-person account of what it’s like to be homeless.”

Top Scoop / Exclusive

Student – Sophie Mei Lan Slack

Judges said that University of Salford student Sophie’s submission on survivors of child sex abuse “sheds genuinely new light on a topic that could scarcely be of greater public importance.”

Trainee – Lauren Witherspoon

Lauren, who works at the Dundee Evening Telegraph, was praised by the judges for following her news radar in the face of official obstruction in her story about a 12-year-old being charged with stealing a car involved in a road traffic collision.


Student – Tom Maddick

Trainee – Harry Atkinson

Judges said that both Tom, from Sheffield College, and Harry, from the North West Evening Mail, faced stiff competition in their categories but they believed their images stood out as they were both able to capture exclusive and emotional images.

Best Student Publication – University of Central Lancashire

The award was presented for magazine The Baking Sheet, which was produced for independent UK bakeries by students in the NCTJ-accredited BA honours in journalism course.

The judges said it was “a superb entry that adopted a completely different approach to crack a niche market.

“Certainly cashing in on a craze sweeping the country, this entry used some great design and really interesting features to drag the reader in. It doesn’t matter whether you like baking or not, you’ll love this magazine.”